In a world as nascent as mobile advertising, you can expect a lot of debate
over the best techniques to measure how well the medium delivers.
If you see a TV commercial touting laundry detergent, are you going to buy that brand because of the commercial? If you see a slick ad on your mobile device for a new Jaguar model, are you going to buy it because you saw the ad?
|Measuring the effectiveness of the Golden Compass ad campaign, Dynamic Logic found the mobile ad significantly increased awareness of the movie.
The answer to the second question may depend on if you have an extra $50,000 to burn. Nevertheless, these are the types of questions that arise when you’re developing a new form of advertising such as mobile.
How do you really know anyone buys something because they saw a particular ad? Sometimes it’s relatively easy to figure out if the ad runs in a particular geography and sales spike immediately thereafter. But even though mobile services are highly track-able compared with TV, you might be hard-pressed to find out exactly what’s the best way to measure the effectiveness of mobile ad campaigns.
Some industry leaders are working on that problem, trying to come up with metrics that will help measure effectiveness. But they won’t come fast. By at least one count – courtesy of Velti, which tracks the space because it offers a mobile marketing and advertising platform – about 450 companies globally claim to do something around mobile marketing and advertising. And that’s not even counting the advertisers, their agencies and media buyers.
GROUPS AT WORK
“I would say the mobile advertising metrics are still a bit of a work in progress,” said John Paris, director, mobile products, at Time Interactive. “This is kind of a universal complaint that the metrics aren’t quite where they need to be.”
It’s especially important for companies such as Time, whose properties span everything from Sports Illustrated to People and don’t have a dedicated mobile sales team. Solutions need to be easily integrated with online ad sales. A lot of times, advertisers and their agencies also want to transcend TV, online, radio, print and mobile, and they want terms that will make sense across mediums. Advertisers don’t want to hear about WAP or CDMA or GSM, Paris said. “We definitely need to make it simpler.”
A year from now, however, the expectation is that a lot of those metrics-related details will be worked out. The mobile committee of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), for one, is working diligently on it.
Other industry groups are developing metrics as well. In April, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) announced the release of its global Mobile Advertising Guidelines, the first set of guidelines issued by the association to encourage the uptake of mobile advertising by brands worldwide. The MMA’s Mobile Advertising Committee is still working on metrics, which could get formalized later this year.
The industry has done a pretty good job on standards in terms of ad sizing and sharing, according to Michael Bayle, director of Global Monetization for Yahoo! Connected Life, who is also on the MMA’s Advertising Committee. When Jaguar extended a campaign to Microsoft, it took the same ads created for Yahoo!’s campaign. “They didn’t have to re-invent the wheel,” he said. But measuring advertising campaign effectiveness, for example, is different. Once there’s a common glossary, mobile results will be easier to measure, he said.
At Mobile World Congress in February, the GSM Association (GSMA) announced five of its members – Vodafone Group, Telefonica O2 Europe, T-Mobile International, FT-Orange Group and 3 – had formed a working group to define common metrics and measurement processes for mobile advertising.
“Overall, we’re looking to make it easier for the media industry to do business over mobile,” said Henry Stevens, director of media and entertainment at the GSMA. The first metrics likely will focus around measuring and quantifying the audience, looking at time of day and how long people stay on mobile sites. The GSMA has good working relationships with the MMA and others, so presumably no one is creating metrics in a vacuum.
|Warner: Open to all ideas for guidelines.
Last month, the TM Forum welcomed renowned advertising company Ogilvy Group as a member. Rory Sutherland, vice chairman of Ogilvy Group UK, joined the forum’s advisory board to give advice on online and mobile advertising.
“We’re not sure which metrics are important to advertisers,” said Jim Warner, vice chairman and chief strategist of the TM Forum. “We’re telecom people.” But with the help of Ogilvy and others, TM Forum members can figure out how to build the technology to meet their needs or standards. If that means working with the MMA or the Mobile Entertainment Forum (MEF), so be it. “If somebody else has the answer, that’s great. That’s just less work for us. We’re very non-territorial in that way.”
It’s not as if solutions don’t already exist to help advertisers or media buyers gauge the success of their campaigns. Jaguar deemed its first mobile campaign with Yahoo! a success on several levels last year. The campaign produced more than 56,000 actions and generated what Jaguar classified as 2,400 qualified leads for the 2009 XF Sedan. The target audience was male, 35- to 54-year-olds who earned $150,000 or more, so it was not targeting the oft-cited mobile youth-oriented audience whose income probably wouldn’t support a new high-end vehicle.
Outside firms can help gauge the effectiveness of a campaign as well. Greystripe commissioned Dynamic Logic to measure the success of “The Golden Compass” mobile ad campaign that featured full-screen ads wrapped around mobile applications. Respondents to a survey were separated into “control” and “exposed” groups based on who saw the mobile ads. The results showed significant increase in awareness and interest in the movie among the exposed group. Exposure to the ads resulted in a 9.5 percentage-point increase in interest in seeing the film.
In April, AdMob introduced AdMob Mobile Analytics, which runs independent of its other services and doesn’t require advertising spend or publishing activity with the company’s flagship mobile ad network product. AdMob Analytics is designed to help measure the usage of mobile Websites and advertising campaigns. The suite allows mobile site owners to track site performance metrics such as unique visitors, duration of visit, page performance, as well as user details including geography, operator and device specifics.
Jason Spero, vice president of marketing at AdMob, said almost every advertiser, from the smallest to the biggest, asks how they can track performance. “A lot of our publishers for whom we serve ads have asked for tools to track what’s going on,” he said.
Click-through rates in mobile tend to be anywhere from 2% to 8% higher than those on the PC. Industry leaders say that’s because ads on mobile are still novel and new for a lot of people. Plus, the real estate is small, so you’re more likely to notice an ad. On the PC, ads can clutter up the screen and make people immune to them. Of course, the more specific the ad targeting, the more the advertiser pays. “If you want to get people, you have to pay to get them,” said Bango CEO Ray Anderson. “There’s a great opportunity to waste a lot of money” in ineffective campaigns.
Last month, Bango added a goal comparison feature to its Bango Analytics, allowing mobile marketers to see which mobile ad campaigns and traffic sources deliver the best conversion rates. Advertisers also can compare the value of the traffic from third-party ad services using independent data provided by Bango. The system tracks users as they enter a mobile Website from different sources and take action, such as click to call, buy content or download an application.
Valista is coming at it from a different angle, offering tools to mobile operators to determine how well mobile ad campaigns are going. After all, the operator must have the capacity to handle massive bursts of traffic during popular programs, noted Fran Heeran, chief technical officer at Valista.
Valista offers a Campaign Analytics module as part of its operator payments service. The module enables operators to more accurately determine individual mobile campaign effectiveness, analyze trends, project revenue and plan network capacity when approving and provisioning new campaigns.
|Staas: Mobile reporting is very specific.
Of course, firms like Nielsen Mobile and M:Metrics offer ways to measure advertisers’ return on investment as well. Mobile advertising is at the stage the Internet was in during the 1996-97 timeframe, relative to where it needs to be and where it’s headed, said Evan Neufield, senior analyst at M:Metrics who was the founding analyst of Jupiter’s digital advertising research practice in 1996.
Nic Covey, director of insights at Nielsen Mobile, is looking forward to working with the team from Nielsen’s recent acquisition of IAG Research, which measures consumer engagement with TV programs, national commercials and product placements, and apply that expertise to mobile marketing.
Nielsen is working closely with HomeScan, which keeps track of the packaged goods that consumers bring home. After they visit the store, participants scan items so Nielsen can track what’s going on. The idea is to get some of those HomeScan panelists to also talk about their mobile behavior and tie that back to their purchases. For example, if someone visited the mobile ESPN site, did that affect their purchases?
“Thankfully, we’re evolving pretty quickly. The biggest thing for any ad industry is reaching critical mass with consumers,” Covey said. With more than 40 million people in the United States using the mobile Internet, it’s a market that advertisers are eager to reach. “I think consumers are warming to the idea of advertising on their phones. They understand there’s a value exchange.”
|Jones: Mobile is more track-able than other media.
According to a Nielsen report in March, 23% of all U.S. mobile subscribers said they had been exposed to advertising on their phones in the prior 30 days. Half of all data users who recalled seeing mobile advertising said they responded to the ad in some way. Nielsen examined consumer recall, responses and attitudes toward banner ads on mobile Web pages, SMS advertising, sponsored applications, video advertising and other types of advertising that reach consumers while using data apps on their mobile phones. The study found that teen data users were the most likely age segment to recall seeing mobile advertising.
ENTHUSIASM STILL HIGH
Companies in the mobile ad networking space say they believe they’re doing a good job in reporting back to advertisers and media buyers. “We feel our reporting is pretty solid,” said David Staas, vice president of marketing at Ad Infuse. “We really make sure we’re very specific in measuring every impression and every click-through.” Still, having third parties aside from ad networks provide verification is something that can help the market move forward, he said.
|Hadl: Mobile advertising provides unduplicated reach.
When it comes to metrics, it’s important to not re-invent the wheel, said Paran Johar, CMO at mobile search firm JumpTap. Mobile advertising and search are so new, sometimes advertisers don’t know what to ask, so they gravitate to metrics with which they are familiar.
It’s not surprising that a new industry would need to find its own set of metrics. Public wireless carriers have their generally agreed-upon metrics that they report every quarter, and those have evolved over time. But the growing pains, if you will, in the mobile ad industry are not putting a damper on enthusiasm.
The beauty of mobile is it often provides an unduplicated reach, not reachable through other channels, said John Hadl, CEO of Brand in Hand. Said Bill Jones, CEO of Air2Web: “Mobile is not perfect, but it’s much more track-able than any other model.”
“We’re motivated by all of the expectations, but there’s a lot of work to deliver what the advertisers want this medium to be,” said AdMob’s Spero. “That means tracking and serving relevant ads to users and continuing to work on what are the right ads … what is the right user experience around that.”